Relatives and neighbors fete bridegroom Ameen Ararah (in floral head scarf, at center rear), 21, at his wedding in the Old City of Sanaa, Yemen. In a country where nearly half the population lives on $1.45 a day, wedding expenses—which can exceed $5,000—are prohibitive. Many couples now pool resources and marry in groups. Photograph by Stephanie Sinclair
In the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Berber brides are dressed for a traditional mass wedding that includes four days of ceremonial rituals. In one, brides purify themselves with water gathered from a river. Photograph by Alexandra Boulat
Gondoliers ferry Venetian newlyweds down the Grand Canal around 1995. Photograph by Sam Abell
In this photo originally published in the June 1951 issue of National Geographic, women carrying rosaries and prayer beads pause en route to church in St. Wolfgang, Austria, where mothers for 500 years or more have handed down fan-shaped headdresses to the brides of eldest sons. Photograph by Volkmar Wentzel
A Yemeni Jewish bride near Gaza wears a wedding costume styled centuries ago in this picture that originally appeared in the July 1985 issue of National Geographic. Photograph by James Stanfield
Priest Addisu Abebe, 23, and his new bride, Destaye Amare, 11, are married in a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox wedding outside the city of Gondar, Ethiopia. Says photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who has documented child brides for National Geographic, "Since Abebe is a priest, it was necessary that he only marry a virgin." Photograph by Stephanie Sinclair
Flanked by traditional dancers, a bride awaits her formal unveiling at a wedding palace in Astana, Kazakhstan, where she has just been married in a ceremony capped by the release of two white doves. The revelry begins when the veil is lifted. Photograph by Gerd Ludwig
In keeping with tradition, Samburu families arrange marriages for their daughters when they're as young as ten. Several days of elaborate ceremonies, such as the warrior dance pictured here in Kenya, are designed to counteract superstitions and bring the new couple good luck. Photograph by Michael Nichols
In traditional Afghan weddings, brides are unveiled and often wear revealing dresses and heavy makeup. At this wedding in Kabul, Afghanistan, the bride wears green, a color associated with prosperity and paradise in Islamic tradition. Her sober expression reflects the fact that marriage is an enormous milestone in an Afghan woman's life, not just a celebratory event. Photograph by Lynsey Addario
Bridal couples pose at a mass wedding at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan. Photograph by Jodi Cobb
Adorned with symbols of royalty, a Zulu king dances at his wedding to a Swazi princess in Nongoma, South Africa. The photo was originally published in the January 1978 issue of National Geographic. Photograph by Volkmar Wentzel
Called "God's great cathedral" by the bride, Alaska's Mendenhall Glacier serves as the setting for her outdoor wedding ceremony near Juneau. Photograph by Melissa Farlow
On a country road in Bilcice, Czech Republic, a bride and groom walk home to her house after their wedding. Photograph by James Stanfield
A group of couples in Taiwan, a Zulu king and Swazi princess in South Africa, a priest and child bride in Ethiopia—National Geographic has been documenting weddings around the world for over a century. Steeped in tradition or embracing modernity, these ceremonies often reflect cultural influences on generations of participants.
The article originally published on the National Geographic official website.
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